Their £2.97 play time is unlikely to be repeated

Liz doesn't believe parents who say their children are happy playing with cardboard boxes
Liz doesn't believe parents who say their children are happy playing with cardboard boxes
Share this article
Sir Ridley Scott called teaching 'the most important of professions'

BLAISE TAPP: The lifelong influence of our classroom leaders

Have your say

Being a parent can lead you to do desperate things.

When my eldest daughter was a baby, I would have sawn my right arm off if it meant that she slept beyond 5am every morning.

In the end, I didn’t remove a limb, but I did once spend £15 on a hideous plastic cot toy, which I hoped would keep her happily entertained for at least two hours each morning before she felt the need to call for my attention at a more reasonable hour of the day.

Suffice it to say, it didn’t work. I was £15 worse off and we had yet another ugly piece of plastic in the house.

So it is hardly a surprise when I get annoyed at reading or hearing those smug parents who bang on about how their little sweeties are just as happy with an upturned saucepan and a wooden spoon, or a cardboard box or paper bag. Jolly mothers, with their Cath Kidston pinnies, a splash of Copydex on their cheek, proclaiming that, in between making collages out of pasta and lentils, they simply give their children a cardboard box to play with, and it keeps them entertained for hours.

To be honest, I just don’t believe them.

Yes, young children will play with a cardboard box. They may even imagine that it is a rocket or house or – possibly more likely these days – the Britain’s Got Talent stage.

Their parent may take note that this is a good and wholesome, if not dirt cheap, entertainment option, but in actual fact, do the children play with it for any longer than the piles of cheap plastic in the toy box?

But before all you be-pinnied parents complain about my torrid of abuse, I would like to recall an incident that occurred in our household over the bank holiday weekend.

The sun was shining and the birds were tweeting. Having spotted my eldest daughter attacking her siblings with a 99p plant sprayer I decided to throw caution to the wind and peddle arms to support the counter-attack. Thus two more plant sprayers were purchased and presented to the younger two children at approximately 1pm.

There then followed what could only be described as outright war. They charged around the garden squirting each other with icy water, pausing only to complain that they were wet (what did they expect?!) or that one had been too close/too far away/too whatever.

Imagine their delight when they discovered the adjustable nozzle!

The game continued with each building their own dens out of garden detritus and the contents of the dressing-up box.

They made signs for their dens (which inevitably got soaked and turned to papier mache) and created personas for themselves loosely based around historic characters.

These gay larks continued until 7pm when I insisted that they eat some food.

Although seemingly very wholesome, this occasion probably will never be repeated.

These moments, facilitated by three green plastic bottles costing £2.97, are very often just that – moments.

If they tried to recreate that fun time, it just wouldn’t happen like that again.

And I wouldn’t even saw off a limb to relive it. Especially since I ended up clearing up the mess.